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genealogy COLLECTION 









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The four of us, undersigned, are interested in the antiquities 
of the Unwin family, and have formed ourselves into a 
committee for the collection, classification, and private 
publication of the available data. These Notes have been 
written by one of us (J. D. U.), and printed by another of 
us (S. U.), in the hope that all Unwins will help us by 
sending us information about themselves and their ancestors 
and by doing some research on the lines indicated. 

We desire not only to construct complete and trust¬ 
worthy genealogical tables, but also to obtain as much 
information as possible concerning the history, status, and 
personal lives of our forbears. To this end we invite our 
kinsmen and kinswomen to provide us with such material 
as may be helpful; and we thank them in advance for 
doing so. 

Communications should be addressed to 

3 J ul y 1934 


Loxley Cottage 



All fights reserved 




The four of us, undersigned, are interested in the antiquities 
of the Unwin family, and have formed ourselves into a 
committee for the collection, classification, and private 
publication of the available data. These Notes have been 
written by one of us (J. D. U.), and printed by another of 
us (S. U.), in the hope that all Unwins will help us by 
sending us information about themselves and their ancestors 
and by doing some research on the lines indicated. 

We desire not only to construct complete and trust¬ 
worthy genealogical tables, but also to obtain as much 
information as possible concerning the history, status, and 
personal lives of our forbears. To this end we invite our 
kinsmen and kinswomen to provide us with such material 
as may be helpful; and we thank them in advance for 
doing so. 

Communications should be addressed to 


Loxley Cottage 


3 July 1934 




Early in the sixteenth century the Unwins were firmly 
established in at least four counties, Hampshire, Stafford¬ 
shire, Wiltshire, and Essex. There is some reason to believe 
that the Essex Unwins were the parent stock; but when we 
become more intimately acquainted with the facts we may 
find that this was not the case. Early in the seventeenth 
century Unwins were prominent in another county also, 
Derbyshire. The Derbyshire Unwins are sometimes called 
the Sheffield Unwins; but, since Sheffield was an insignifi¬ 
cant township when the Unwins were first in the district, 
it is preferable to speak of the Derbyshire Unwins. 

I have not the space, even if I had the knowledge, to 
speak in detail of all these Unwins; so I shall merely make 
a few general remarks about the Hampshire, Staffordshire, 
Wiltshire, and Derbyshire Unwins, and discuss the Essex 
Unwins at slightly greater length. 

If we may judge from the number of their extant wills 
and from the size of the estates they owned the early Essex 
Unwins were richer and more energetic than their kinsmen; 
but the fortunes of each branch of the family have always 
ebbed and flowed, and in the nineteenth century the Essex 
Unwins who remained in Essex were not so distinguished 
as their relations in London or their kinsmen in the western 




Our family has never played a leading part in national 
life; indeed it has seldom risen from the solid ranks of the 
middle classes. Speaking generally, the Church has been its 
favourite profession, textiles the main source of its wealth, 
the land its greatest love. Knighthoods have been rare; I 
know of two only; but in their heyday the Essex family 
owned manors rated at two knights’ fees, and at one time 
most of the Hedingham Unwins owned much land. The 
Essex Unwins also intermarried with some of the most 
notable families of their county, the Gents, of Moynes 
Park, for example, with whom two marriages took place, 
and the Todds of Sturmer Hall, who also intermarried with 
the Gents. It was quite common, too, in the seventeenth 
century, for an Unwin to be elected as a burgess of Col¬ 
chester; and there can be no doubt about the family’s local 
reputation there. The other branches of the family also inter¬ 
married, at various times, with members of the old squirearchy. 
There is abundant evidence of their local distinction. 

Of the Wiltshire Unwins I have no genealogical know¬ 
ledge. Bishop’s Cannings was their home. They were rich 
and flourishing before the middle of the sixteenth century. 

of these 

wills, and a visit to Bishop’s Cannings, would be a good 
starting-point for a study of the history of these important 
men. I cannot say if there is any mention of them in the 
Visitations of Wiltshire. 

The Staffordshire Unwins are the only ones whose right 
to Arms has been officially recognized. Their chief settle¬ 
ment was at Chaterley (Chatterleigh). Few of their wills are 
extant. They flourished greatly about the middle of the 
sixteenth century, and then seem to have declined. Perhaps 
most of them migrated to other counties. I have not been 

Several of their early wills are extant. A reading 



successful in my search for a pedigree of the early Stafford¬ 
shire Unwins, but the publications of the Harleian Society 
contain much information about them. There is good reason 
to believe that they were closely related to the Hampshire 
family, which had a considerable reputation in the sixteenth 
century and was then recognized as a “county” family. An 
early pedigree is recorded in the Visitation of Hampshire, 
1575—1622. The progenitor was a certain Thomas. The 
family claimed Arms, but failed to prove a right to them. 
One of Thomas’s descendants, Simon (b. 1619), migrated 
to Clough-house, Staffordshire, perhaps in order to live near 
his distinguished kinsmen. He is mentioned in the Visitation 
of Staffordshire, 1663. The chief settlement in Hampshire 
was at Horton, sometimes called Horton Yabington. A 
search at Horton might yield great results. Much genea¬ 
logical information is available in regard to the Hampshire 
family, but I do not think that any early wills are extant. 

It is probable that the Derbyshire Unwins were an off¬ 
shoot from one of these branches. In the eighteenth century 
the chief centre of the Derbyshire Unwins was at Eyam; 
but prominent Unwins lived in Sheffield in the previous 
century. So far as I know, no attempt has ever been made to 
collect any details in regard to the early history of these men; 
nor have the records at Eyam ever been searched. At the 
present time the Derbyshire Unwins are represented by, 
among others, Sir Raymond Unwin and the Rev. R. C. 
Unwin, of St Asaph, Birmingham; and I think that the 
Unwin-Heathcotes, of Shephalbury, Herts., are Derbyshire 
1 Unwins. They are descended from Samuel Unwin, of 
Sutton-in-Ash field, Notts. 

Most of the sixteenth-century Unwins appear to have 
been engaged in the wool trade. At first they were probably 



craftsmen, combers, weavers, fullers, etc., but some of them 
were so successful as to become clothiers. The money they 
made was usually invested in land. The clothiers were the 
first employers in the history of British industry. The 
earliest of them were craftsmen, too, but later a clothier 
became a mere capitalist. He purchased wool and sent it to 
be spun and carded, gave out the yarn to the weavers, placed 
the cloth with the fullers, dyers, and tuckers, had it felted 
and cleansed, and finally sold it to the drapers. Some Unwins 
were most successful clothiers, but their sons do not always 
seem to have followed their fathers’ trade. When a man was 
rich some of his sons tended to become squires or priests; 
others wandered; and it was not uncommon for a man who 
migrated to London to become a skinner. Unwins were 
trading in the City of London early in the sixteenth century; 
most of them appear to have been skinners. Thus Lawrence, 
who died in 1577, was a skinner in Walbrook. He was not 
a rich man, but he was in a fair way of business, and was 
able to make ample provision for his wife and family. He also 
left some money to Christ’s Hospital, a little less money to 
the poor of All Hallows, and six-and-eightpence to the 
“godly and learned man” who preached at his funeral. In 
this matter Lawrence disappoints me; I think he might 
have done better than that, especially as he left twenty 
shillings for a dinner to his fellow-skinners. I do not know 
where he came from, but this incidence makes me reluctant, 
without irrefragable evidence, to accept him as an Essex 
Unwin. None of the Essex Unwins would have regarded 
six-and-eightpence as a fair price for a first-class funeral 
sermon. They were in the habit of paying at least two pounds 
for that inestimable service. 

In the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries it was not 



uncommon for an Unwin to be called “Gent.”. This is true 
not only of the Essex Unwins but of all Unwins; and the 
description is an eloquent one, for it implies either a noted 
capitalist or a proprietor of much land. In the Parish 
Registers these men, and their immediate descendants, are 
sometimes referred to as “Mr”. The entries are implicit 
proof of a rise in the social, if not in the cultural, scale. 
Sometimes, indeed, I have begun to feel an inordinate pride 
in being the offspring of men who enjoyed such rare dis¬ 
tinctions. But on such occasions I have usually managed to 
remind myself that on August 13th, 1623, John Unwin, 
of Shipton, Gloucestershire, was among those who “dis- 
claymed to be no Gentilmen within the County and City 
of Gloucester”. 

In the course of our history our name has been variously 
spelt. Unwin is fairly established by the middle of the 
seventeenth century, but before that time the name appears 
as Unwyn, Unwynne, Unvoyne, Unvine, Unnewyn, 
Hunwyn, Onwynne, Onwyn, Onwine, Onvine, Oynon, 
Onyon, and Onion. In Oynon, perhaps, the second and 
third letters of Onyon have been accidentally transposed. 
As for Hunwyn, why, all of us know that we are commonly 
presented with an aspirate, and it seems unreasonable to cavil 
at the writing of an h that is so often pronounced. The other 
forms of the name are definitely alternatives; none of them 
is exclusively used by any branch of the family. The son of 
an Unwyn is often subscribed as an Onyon, the son of an 
Onwine as an Unnewyn, and so on. Moreover, the same 
man may be referred to, in different parts of the same docu¬ 
ment, as “Onion alias Unwin”, and as “Unwin alias Onion”. 
It is depressing to reflect that our ancestors may be responsible 
for all the Onions in England. 



The substitution of w for v (Unvine, Unwine, etc.) 
suggests a foreign origin and a migration in comparatively 
recent times from the continent of Europe. This agrees with 
the family legends, the commonest of which says that we are 
Huguenots, and that the family came to England during 
the persecution of the Protestants by the Duke of Alva. 
This theory, I believe, was formulated, or at any rate first 
published, by Samuel Smiles; but I have found no support 
for it, and myself do not believe it to be true. Indeed there is 
much evidence to show that it is false. I do not doubt that 
we are descended from Flemings who came to England after 
the Norman Conquest; but the migration, or the earliest 
migration, if there was more than one, must have taken place 
at an earlier date than the sixteenth century. 

The Hundred Rolls of 1273, which are the only ones I 
have seen, contain the names of several Unwins. In that year 
there was a William Unwinne in Oxfordshire, a Philip 
Unwyne in Huntingdonshire, a William Unwin and a 
Reginald Hunwyn in Cambridgeshire, and a Simon Unnewyn 
in Lincolnshire. I do not know any more about these men. 
Doubtless further inquiries will reveal more abundant, 
perhaps even earlier, information. 

There is another argument against the idea that our 
ancestors first came to England in the sixteenth century. 
When the Flemings fled from the wrath of Alva large 
numbers of them were permitted to settle in East Anglia. 
A careful record was kept of, and a more careful supervision 
maintained over, their movements. In the records of the 
Borough of Colchester there is a list of “all such strangers, 
menne, women, and children, as are within the Towne of 
Colchester, ye xxvith daie of April, 1573, which fled out 
of the countrye of Flanders for their conscience sake by 


reason of the Tirannius usage of the Papistes there, and 
permitted to remaine in Colchester by licence from the 
Queenes Majestys privie councell”. The list is carefully 
compiled. The name of each man is given, with the number 
of his wives [sic] and children, and the name of the citizen 
in whose house they were lodged. The total number, which 
checks, is given as 534, and we may reasonably assume that 
the list contains no omissions. No Unwin appears in it. Yet 
we know that in 1579 Unwins were being born and buried 
in the parish of St Nicholas, Colchester. Thus we may 
conclude that in the middle of the sixteenth century the 
Unwins of Colchester were not recognized by their fellow- 
citizens as immigrants; and the same conclusion must be 
drawn in the case of any other sixteenth-century Unwin. 
By that time the Unwins, whatever their origin, had become, 
and were accepted as, natives. 

The family Arms confirm the theory of foreign origin. 
They consist of three gold fleurs-de-lis, placed two over one, 
in an azure field. But concerning the Arms there are many 
complications, some of which may be noted. 

In his Encyclopaedia Heraldic a Berry mentions Arms 
for the Staffordshire, Hampshire, and Essex Unwins; but 
between the several shields, as Berry describes them, there 
are some interesting differences. The Arms granted to 
William Unwyn, of Chaterley, Staffs., 15 November 1581, 
consisted of three silver fleurs-de-lis, and, below them, a 
gold crescent. In the shield of another Staffordshire Unwin 
the gold crescent is missing; the fleurs-de-lis are again 
silver, not gold. Gold fleurs-de-lis appear in the Arms which 
Berry credits to the Hampshire Unwins, but in the Hamp¬ 
shire shield an elaboration has been introduced : silver 
spears issue from the top of it. This elaboration is omitted 



from the Arms which, according to Berry, were used by 
the Essex Unwins. He describes the Essex shield as consisting 
of three gold fleurs-de-lis, simply. 

From these data it is tempting to conclude that, since 
the Hampshire shield is an elaboration of the Essex shield, 
the Hampshire family was an off-shoot from the Essex 
family. And the use in Staffordshire of silver, as opposed 
to gold, fleurs-de-lis might be held to indicate that the 
Staffordshire group, though of the same origin as, had 
separated itself at an early date from, the other two groups. 
But as soon as we examine the historical evidence we must 
dismiss these conjectures. Historically there seems to have 
been some connection between the Hampshire and Stafford¬ 
shire Unwins; no link at present exists between them and 
the Essex Unwins. Furthermore, only one grant of Arms, 
that made to William Unwyn, of Staffordshire, has been 
officially recognized. When the Hampshire family applied 
for Arms, no grant was made; and no official justification 
can be found for Berry’s ascription of Arms to the Essex 
family. Yet it is definitely recorded (I myself have seen their 
signatures) that during the Visitation of Essex, 1664, John 
and Nathaniel Unwin, both of Castle Hedingham, signed 
a declaration to the effect that they had no right to Arms; 
and it is difficult to understand why they should have been 
asked, or persuaded, to disclaim their right if the right had 
never existed or could not possibly exist. Moreover, anyone 
who visits Castle Hedingham will find that Arms are carved 
on the tomb of Thomas (1618—1689). Thus when John 
and Nathaniel disclaimed their right to Arms there was 
living in the same town a prominent Unwin, aged 46, 
who was so confident of his right to Arms that he had them 
engraved on his tomb. Perhaps Thomas’s action may be 


interpreted as a protest against the behaviour of his brothers 
(cousins?) in disclaiming their right. I am inclined to think 
that at one time the Essex Unwins had a right to Arms 
which, owing to the action of John and Nathaniel, was 
never afterwards recognized officially. 

The only existing hatchment known to me is in the parish 
church at Ramsden Bellhouse, near Billericay, Essex. It is 
very dilapidated, and the Vicar would like to have it restored. 
It belonged to Sir John Unwin (1714—1789), uncle of 
William Cawthorne Unwin, who was Rector of Stoke-cum- 
Ramsden, 1769—1786. Sir John grew rich by the purchase 
and sale of Anglican livings, and was knighted for the 
services thus rendered to the Church. During and just after 
his lifetime many Essex Unwins felt an urge to become 

In 1886 Arms were granted to John Unwin, of North 
Meols, Lancs., Mayor of Southport. I do not know any¬ 
thing about him, but suspect him of being a Staffordshire 

In 1929 Arms for Unwin were granted to Michael 
Arthur Unwin-Heathcote, of Shephalbury, Herts., son of 
Arthur Samuel Unwin-Heathcote, late of the same place. 
Arms for Heathcote were granted to this family in 1815. 
The original Samuel Heathcote Unwin-Heathcote, of 
Sheephall Bury (as the name used to be spelt), Herts., was 
the eldest son of Samuel Unwin, of Sutton-in-Ashfield, 
Notts. As I have said, I am inclined to regard him as a 
Derbyshire Unwin. 

Till I studied my notes I had always thought that I was 
the only Unwin who could claim to be a member of both 
Universities; but I was wrong. The palm must be awarded 
to our reverend kinsman Stephen, who in 1706 was admitted 




as a sizar to Emmanuel College, Cambridge. He graduated 
in 1709, transferred himself to Oxford in 1712, became 
Vicar of Bures St Mary, Suffolk, in 1716, Rector of West 
Meon, Hants., in 1720, and Canon of St Paul’s in 1728. 
Stephen was an Essex Unwin; and his migration to 
Hampshire warns us that in later times the early divi¬ 
sions of the family were broken. Several other early 
migrations are known to me; nearly all of them occurred 
when an Unwin, having been ordained, took up a living 
in another part of the country. Thus Thomas, who 
in 1590 matriculated at Corpus Christi College, Oxford, 
and is always presented with the sub-title “Gent.”, was 
a Wiltshire Unwin. After he had graduated he became 
Rector of Huntley, Glouc. Again, in 1788, Edward, the 
son of James Unwin, of Baddow, Essex, graduated from 
Pembroke College, Oxford; from 1809 till his death in 
1847 he was Vicar of Werburgh, Derbyshire. During the 
time of the gallant Sir John, of course, it was common for 
Essex Unwins to be in the possession of livings in different 
shires; but we may not infer that a reverend Unwin lived 
in each parish. Sir John was too shrewd a man to fill every 
living that he owned. Several of his relations were fortunate 
enough to possess more than one living; among them 
Matthias, who was once driven to take legal action because 
the Bishop of Worcester refused to institute him. Matthias 
was a Cambridge man, and matriculated at Queens’ College 
in 1740. 

In addition to the Thomas, Edward, and Stephen whom 
I have just mentioned, there was only one Unwin at Oxford 
before the nineteenth century. This was a certain Roger 
(subscribed as Unvine), who came from Worcestershire, 
matriculated in 1607, and resided at Balliol College. I do 


not know what happened to him after that. Apparently he 
did not graduate. 

Of the nineteenth-century men it should be simple to 
obtain more information than I possess. In 1871 Charles 
Edward, son of Samuel Hope Unwin, of Chepstow, Mon., 
graduated from Worcester College and afterwards became 
Rector of Cossington, Somerset. Two, perhaps three, sons 
of a certain John Unwin, of Marylebone, were Oxonians. 
I conjecture that this John is to be identified with the John 
(1774-1843), who was chief clerk to the Treasury and 
married Rosamund, daughter of John Sargent, of Halstead 
Place, Kent. One of their daughters, Geraldine Harriet, 
married (St James, Piccadilly, 6 October 1855) her cousin, 
Sir Charles Sargent. 

In 1814 a certain Samuel, of Sutton, Notts, (probably the 
progenitor of the Unwin-Heathcotes), sent his son Edward 
to Oriel College; and I think that James Wheeler (Oriel 
College, 1831) and Edward Wilberforce (Pembroke 
College, 1842) were Edward’s sons. As a youth the second 
boy was at Rugby, and when I was at Shrewsbury School 
I discovered that some Unwins had been there in the previous 
generation. Bishop’s Stortford College also sheltered some 
Unwins between 1869 and 1875. These must have been 
members of a Nonconformist branch of the family. 

I record these scattered facts in the hope that they may 
act as pegs on which to hang further inquiries. Much 
information is available; and the completion of the records 
ought not to be a very difficult task, especially if these notes 
catch the eye of some descendants of the Staffordshire, 
Hampshire, and Wiltshire families. 

Several Unwins graduated at Cambridge before 1750. 
Among them there were two important Essex Unwins, 



Thomas and Morley, to whom I shall refer again. They 
were at Jesus College and Queens’ College respectively. 
In 1668 John, a Derbyshire Unwin, was a graduate and 
Fellow of Magdalene College. He was ordained deacon and 
priest in the same year. In 1676 another John, the son of 
William Unwin, a farmer in Cheshire, was at Pembroke 




The fact that in any area the name of a progenitor is usually 
found to be Thomas or John encourages me to think that 
we shall eventually discover the manner in which the 
various branches of the family were related. Our fathers 
were extremely conservative in their choice of Christian 
names; and the persistency with which the names of Thomas 
and John occur in the earliest records is a strong indication 
of common origin. It would be extraordinary if three or 
four unrelated groups of Unwins spontaneously chose and 
perpetuated the same names. 

The early Essex Unwins settled in the Hundred of 
Henckford, and in the middle of the sixteenth century there 
were five separate families, whose mutual relationship is 
unknown to me. These families lived in Colchester, Thaxted, 
Great Sampford (also called Old Sampford), Hadstock, and 
Castle Hedingham (then known as Henningham Castle), 
respectively. In every case the progenitor was a Thomas 
or a John. 

Of these five groups the Sampford and Hedingham ones 
are the most important; they were richer, and occupied a 
higher position in the social scale, than the others. But my 
knowledge of the Colchester Unwins is scanty; and it is 
possible that when more evidence has been collected I shall 
have to revise my opinion. The Thaxted and Hadstock 
families do not appear to have achieved any worldly success; 
the fortunes of the others varied from time to time. The 
Sampford Unwins, some of whom migrated to Steeple 



Bumpstead and elsewhere, were at their best in the sixteenth 
century; at that time the Hedingham Unwins were compara¬ 
tively unimportant; but in the seventeenth century the 
Sampford Unwins declined, and the Hedingham Unwins 
were bursting with wealth and energy. After the middle of 
the eighteenth century there was a decline in the fortunes 
of the Hedingham men, the more vigorous of whom 
migrated to other parts of the county or to London. 

The Thaxted Unwins were numerous. Indeed their 
chief, perhaps their only, virtue lay in their numbers. They 
are very uninteresting. Odd scraps of information can be 
picked up in the Law Reports; and a study of the Hundred 
Rolls might produce more data than I have had either the 
opportunity or the inclination to collect. I do not know when 
the original Unwins arrived in Thaxted. The Parish 
Registers begin in 1558, and Unwins were being baptized 
in and after 1562. The father of the earliest recorded 
children seems to have been a certain John. 

A John Unwin was also the progenitor of the Hadstock 
Unwins. He died in 1559. The family in Hadstock was a 
small one, and may have suffered from its comparative 
isolation. Anyway, it soon disappeared; after 1581 there 
were no living males. Joan (b. 1570), Mary (b. 1581), and 
their cousin, Margaret (b. 1584), alone remained. By 
marrying three times, Margaret’s father, Robert, did his 
best to secure an heir, but he was not successful. The 
honourable title of “Gent.” is never given to the members 
of this family. There is no evidence in regard to the way 
in which the family lived. 

Unwins again appeared in Hadstock in the eighteenth 
century, when a certain Nathaniel came to marry Susan 
Woolland. I do not know, but it should not be difficult to 


discover, where the original Nathaniel came from. I suspect 
him of being a Hedingham man, for Nathaniel was a 
favourite Hedingham name, and none of the other groups 
chose to use it. But little time need be spent in trying to 
discover the identity of Nathaniel, for he was a dull fellow, 
and his descendants were degenerate. Several of them died 
of smallpox; at least one of the unmarried girls was a 
pauper; the men appear to have been lazy, the women 
neglected. Nathaniel’s third son, Nathaniel, went to Rad- 
winter for a wife. 

The Sampford men deserve more attention than has yet 
been given to them. In the sixteenth century they were 
richer, and socially more important, than the Hedingham 
Unwins. Three generations later they disappear in a mist 
of genealogical confusion. They seem to have adopted the 
choice of Achilles—a short life, full of deeds and glory, in 
preference to a century or two of dull obscurity; but perhaps 
I am exaggerating. In the sixteenth century they were 
sufficiently outstanding to be called “Gent.”; in the Parish 
Registers the honourable title of “Mr” also appears. Un¬ 
doubtedly they were clothiers; they also grew rich; and, as 
usual, they invested their money in land. By the middle of 
the sixteenth century one of them had already migrated to 
Steeple Bumpstead. Later their descendants seem to have 
lived at Hempstead, Helions Bumpstead, Radwinter, and 
Little Sampford; but no safe conclusion can be drawn from 
such evidence as I have. In the eighteenth century the 
men whom I regard as their descendants were merely 

One of the earliest, but not the earliest, of the Sampford 
Unwins was a certain Thomas, who died in 1566. He was 
a man of considerable property, and late in life moved to 

2 3 


Steeple Bumpstead, where he purchased more property. 
He married a widow named Alice, who must have been 
either clever or fascinating, for when Thomas married her 
she already had three daughters. Alice seems to have been 
a Sampford woman; her daughters married Sampford men. 
Thomas’s removal to Steeple Bumpstead did not break his 
connection with Sampford; in his will he left money to the 
poor of both parishes. He had one son, Richard, who in 1578 
purchased a nice little property, Goodinges (Goddings), in 
Little Yeldham. Goodinges was once a reputed manor, 
rated at a knight’s fee, but when Richard bought it, it merely 
consisted of a house, a garden, and 215 acres. There is no 
reason to think that he ever lived there; it was simply an 
investment for his spare capital. The property was sold by 
Richard’s eldest son, Robert, 14 August 1621. 

While Goodinges remained in the family, another event, 
testifying to the status of the family, occurred: on 13 April 
1591, a Thomas Unwin married Bridget, the youngest 
child of Thomas Gent, of Moynes Park. Bridget was 
then 19 years old, and I fear that she may have had an 
unhappy married life. Soon after her marriage the Unwin 
fortunes began to dwindle, and there can be no doubt that 
Bridget’s numerous children were poor. We can almost 
watch her money shrink. In 1596 her husband paid 540/- 
in taxes; in 1623, 60/-; in 1629 Bridget, as a widow, 
paid 20/- only. Thomas, her husband, seems to have been 
the eldest son of George, of Sampford. Contemporary with 
George there was a certain John, whose son Richard 
migrated to Little Sampford. Most of their descendants 
lived either in one of the Sampfords or in a neighbouring 
village. Their fortunes varied, but after the beginning of 
the seventeenth century the family never regained its 



former distinction. A single story will illustrate their 

In the first half of the seventeenth century a Thomas and 
a John flourished mildly in Helions Bumpstead and Great 
Sampford, respectively. Thomas had married Joan Haly, 
of Little Bardfield; and when he died he left all his property 
to her, appointing her brother as his executor. Thomas left 
money to the poor of Steeple and Helions Bumpstead, and 
gave each of his daughters a dowry of £250. But he was 
distressed by his lack of a son. When he was making his will 
his wife happened to be pregnant, and Thomas made careful 
provision for the unborn child, and described in detail what 
was to be done (a) if it was a boy, (b) if it was another girl. 
Evidently it was a girl; and apparently Thomas had mis¬ 
calculated, for, after all the dowries had been paid or allowed 
for, there was little left for Joan. Joan then married a man 
called Wily, of Ickleton, Cambs., and in order that she 
should not be worse off than her daughters John of Sampford, 
who was by no means a rich man, came to her rescue, and 
purchased some property for her in Ickleton. In this property 
Joan had a life-interest. On her death it went to John’s 
youngest son, Thomas. 

The Sampford men attract me very much. They were 
simple, but there is something genuine about them which is 
sadly lacking in the early Hedingham men. I do not know 
what relationship existed between the original Thomas, 
John, and George. Doubtless more extended researches will 
reveal it. Perhaps they were brothers. 

There is no reason to suppose that any of the Sampford 
Unwins ever migrated to Hedingham. No connecting link 
between the families is known to me. It is reasonable to 
suppose that they had a common ancestor. If so, this ancestor 

2 5 


probably lived in the fifteenth century. An examination of 
the Hundred Rolls might solve the problem. If we may 
judge from the character of the richer members of the 
Hedingham family the early Unwins were sufficiently 
litigious to make frequent appearances in the Rolls. 

In the seventeenth century, in addition to the places I 
have mentioned, Unwins were living in Great Bardfield, 
Toppesfield, Witham, Finchingfield, Wethersfield, Col¬ 
chester, Stambourne, Braintree, Brightlingsea, Hockley, 
Rickling, and perhaps in many other villages also. In some 
cases a migration from one village to another can be traced; 
in the last five cases wills are extant. Unfortunately I have 
not read them. Some of these Unwins would be descended 
from the Hedingham family, others from the Sampford 
family, others from the Thaxted family. 

It was at the end of the seventeenth century that there 
occurred the second marriage between the Unwins and the 
Gents of Moynes Park: Joseph Unwin, of Castle Heding¬ 
ham, married Hannah, daughter of George Gent, 22 Decem¬ 
ber 1692. For reasons unknown to me this marriage is often 
referred to with bated breath. The marriage between 
Thomas Unwin and Bridget Gent, which had taken place 
just over a hundred years before, even if known, is never 
credited with the same social significance. Yet the Gents 
appear to have been more important at the end of the six¬ 
teenth century than they were at the end of the seventeenth 
century. In 1588 Thomas Gent, Bridget’s father, had been 
Baron of the Exchequer; and I cannot imagine George 
Gent rising to such heights. Moreover, Thomas Gent 
never suffered the indignity of being summoned for con¬ 
spiracy, as George was; and, so far as I know, Bridget’s 
mother was not compelled, as Hannah’s mother is said to 



have been, to form a counter-plot in defence of the alleged 
victim of her husband’s rapacity. Furthermore, when 
Joseph married Hannah, the two families were already 
related not only through the Thomas-Bridget marriage but 
also through their mutual intermarriage with the Todds of 
Sturmer Hall. 

A Todd came to possess Sturmer Hall in the same manner 
as a Gent came to possess Moynes Park, that is, by marrying 
the only child and heiress of the owner. About 1468 William 
Gent married Joan, daughter and heiress of William 
Moyne; towards the end of the sixteenth century Robert 
Todd married Ellen RadclifFe, heiress to the Sturmer 
estate. Ellen was buried at Sturmer, 31 March 1614. Her 
great-grandson, RadclifFe Todd, married Martha Unwin, 
and her great-granddaughter, Anne, RadclifFe’s sister, 
married, first, Thomas Mortlock, and then George Gent. 
Anne was Hannah Gent’s mother. Thus, before her mar¬ 
riage to Joseph Unwin, Hannah was the niece of Martha 
Todd, nee Unwin, and the great-grandniece of Bridget 
Unwin, nee Gent. I cannot think that the parties to the 
marriage regarded their union as in any way unusual. True, 
Joseph was the favourite of his elder brother Matthias, who 
was George Gent’s partner in at least one piece of roguery; 
and it may be that Matthias pressed Joseph’s claims with 
arguments which George found it difficult to answer; but 
even if this bond had not existed between the men the 
marriage could not have been regarded as out of harmony 
with the social status of the contracting parties. 

I do not know where Martha came from. I have tried to 
identify her with two separate Hedingham Marthas (Martha 
was a common Hedingham name), but neither of them fits. 
RadclifFe, Martha’s husband, died 29 July 1675. He was 



only 32 years old. Martha then married Thomas Ferrand, 
a lawyer, of Clare, Suffolk. She herself died 27 March 
1679. She must yet have been young. Ferrand died in 
1689. All three of them are buried at Sturmer. 



In regard to the sixteenth-century Hedingham Unwins 
there are many obscurities. The oldest Parish Register has 
recently been lost (the same thing has happened at Steeple 
Bumpstead); only those who made extracts from it before 
it was lost could say what relationship existed between such 
men as John, who died in 1551, and “Old Nathaniel the 
Comber”, who lived about a generation later. I myself can 
only speak with confidence about the seventeenth-century 

The study of the Hedingham family is greatly embarrassed 
by Unwinian conservatism in the choice of Christian names. 
In the early seventeenth century there were no less than 
seven Matthias Unwins living in Castle Hedingham, and, 
in the middle of the century, almost as many Thomases. 
The eldest of the seven Matthiases is sometimes referred to 
as “Old Mr Unwin”, or as “Mr Unwin, Senr”; but such 
helpful comments were rarely made, and, if we are not careful, 
we make the mistake of identifying men who were only 
distantly related to one another. I possess copies of three 
Unwin genealogies; in each case this fault vitiates the early 
entries. To avoid it, I have always adopted the medieval 
custom of descriptive epithets; and if we remember, and 
distinguish between, Matthias the Great (d. 1650), Thomas 
the Great (1618-1689), Thomas the Vicar (1643-1703), 
Thomas the Bad (1645-1701), Matthias the Magnificent 
(1657-1715), and Thomas the Grocer (1678-1733), much 
that at first is obscure becomes clear. 



Thomas the Great is the key man. Matthias the Great 
was his father, Thomas the Vicar his cousin, Thomas the 
Bad his eldest son, Matthias the Magnificent his fourth son, 
and Thomas the Grocer his grandson, the eldest son of 
Thomas the Bad. 

Thomas the Great (as well as some other members of the 
family whom I do not mention lest the story should become 
too confused) was a clothier; and, since he did not inherit 
but actually purchased his numerous estates, I regard him 
as one of the founders of the family fortunes. But Thomas 
the Vicar’s father must have been almost equally successful; 
otherwise he would not have been able to send his son to 
Cambridge. It seems possible that the more humble members 
of the family were in the employ of their more successful 

When he died Thomas the Great, upon whose tomb the 
Essex Arms were engraved, was a rich man, known and 
respected over a wide area. In addition to a number of 
houses, cottages, and tenements in Castle Hedingham, and 
much land purchased from various men whom he names in 
his will, he possessed six estates which were sufficiently large 
to be known by special names: Kentish Blooms, Laurences, 
Cocks, Eckfields, Broomleys, and Torringtons. The first 
three seem to have been in or near Castle Hedingham, the 
others in or near Sible Hedingham. Thomas also made cash 
legacies to the value of over £1,600; their payment does not 
seem to have necessitated the sale of any buildings or land. 
Some of his young granddaughters received £50 each; and it 
is interesting to note that the girls were not to receive the 
money if they married without the consent of the testator’s 
widow and sons. These sons do not appear to have agreed 
about many things, and we can only hope that in making 



their matrimonial arrangements the nieces were not unduly 
embarrassed by the private animosities of their uncles. 

Matthias the Magnificent inherited much of his father’s 
fortune, and added to it by his own exertions. He was not 
a clothier. Nowadays he would probably be called a dealer in 
real estate. He was also a brewer, and owned several “kilnes”, 
of which he seems to have been proud. His magnificence lay 
in his amazing energy and enterprise. Many stories could be 
told about him; he was no stranger to the law. When he 
died he was the owner not only of Broomleys and Torring- 
tons, inherited from his father, but also of Camoys Manor, 
Toppesfield, of several mortgages on other desirable Toppes- 
field estates, of Partwood, Finchingfield, of a place called 
Cage Croft, of land in Rusley Green, and of numerous 
other mortgages, lands, houses, and cottages occupied by 
various tenants, among whom were included several of his 
nieces and their husbands. Matthias also left £2,155 in 
cash. He never married, and was a great friend of George 
Gent. He left the bulk of his property to his younger brother, 
Joseph, who married Hannah Gent, and to their eldest 
son, Joseph. 

In the seventeenth century the men usually dowered their 
daughters. Sometimes, too, they lent money to their 
daughters’ and nieces’ husbands, to help them in their 
business. This money was invariably left to the women-folk, 
each of whom thus became her husband’s creditor. This 
situation might have led to domestic difficulties, so the 
testators took care to avoid any possible qualification of the 
terms of the loan. The wills contain minute instructions in 
regard to the rate of interest, method of repayment, and all 
other details. Moreover, the money always had to be 
“employed and improved”. Usually the daughter or niece 



that received it was required to hand it on to her children 
in accordance with the testator’s wishes. Sometimes money 
was left direct to a young child, who received it either on 
marriage or on coming of age. In such a case the money 
usually remained in the hands of the executors, who were 
required to pay interest to the child’s mother. 

Thomas the Great had five sons, of whom three outlived 
him. One died in infancy. Another, Stephen, born 21 April 
1655, became a pensioner at Queens’ College, Cambridge, 
and died there. He was buried, 30 November 1677, in St 
Botolph’s Churchyard, Cambridge. The eldest son, Thomas 
the Bad, does not seem to have been on very good terms 
either with his father or with his brothers. His sons, too, 
were a quarrelsome lot. None of them lived in Hedingham. 
Thomas the Bad’s eldest son, Thomas the Grocer, went to 
London, and became an apprentice at Grocers’ Hall. Two 
of his brothers, Roger and George, were in partnership as 
skinners in the parish of St Michael’s, Crooked Lane. 
Another brother also, John, was in business in London, 
but I cannot say where he lived or what he was. The other 
brother, Stephen, has already been mentioned; he was at 
Emmanuel College, Cambridge, then at Oxford, and later 
Rector of Westmeon, Hants. Thomas the Bad’s treatment 
of Stephen was a bright spot in a dull and indifferent life. 
In his will he left certain lands to Stephen, and added: “He 
shall be brought up as a scholar, with part of the profits of 
my estates.” 

When Thomas the Grocer died in 1733 these men’s 
quarrels intensified; several law-suits resulted. Roger, 
George, and John were already dead, and the Courts were 
asked to disentangle the legal knots they left behind them. 
Stephen claimed that Thomas the Grocer’s executor had not 



met an obligation incurred by Thomas and guaranteed by 
Stephen; John’s widow said that she had never received the 
money her husband left her, and that Roger’s executors 
had not paid her the money that George had left for the 
education of her son. Thomas the Grocer had been one of 
these executors, and was reputed to have used the dead man’s 
money for his own purposes. A similar charge was made 
against George. Thomas the Grocer and Stephen were 
appointed joint executors by each brother in turn; and, 
when Thomas died, Stephen had to settle up with Morley, 
Thomas’s second son and executor. The story is not a very 
savoury one. 

Morley, like Stephen, went into the Church. He gradu¬ 
ated from, and later was a Fellow of, Queens’ College, 
Cambridge. At one time he was Rector of Wistow, Hants., 
also of Grimston, Norfolk. He then went to the Grammar 
School, Huntingdon, and was followed at Grimston by the 
Rev. Thomas Elliston Unwin, whom I cannot yet place 
genealogically. Sir John Unwin, to whom I have already 
referred, was Morley’s younger brother. 

Morley married Mary, daughter of William Cawthorne, 
a linen-draper, of Ely, Cambs. Their son, William Caw¬ 
thorne, was at Christ’s College, Cambridge, and afterwards 
became Rector of Stoke-cum-Ramsden, Essex. He died 
at the early age of 41. His friendship with William 
Cowper, the poet, resulted in the latter being introduced to 
Morley and Mary. A little later Morley fell from his horse, 
and died. Thereupon Mary took Cowper more directly 
under her care, and may be said, during the rest of her life, 
to have lived for him, and for him alone. She died in 1796, 
and was buried at East Dereham. Cowper, who died in 
1800, was buried beside her. 



In spite of his name, Professor William Cawthorne 
Unwin is not a member of this branch of the family, and 
must go back to 1613 before he finds a common ancestor 
with the original William Cawthorne Unwin. I do not 
know what happened to the latter’s children. He acted as 
guardian to Mary, daughter of his elder brother Henry, 
who predeceased his father. Mary was married, 28 October 
1785, to Addington Adderley, Esq., son of Dr Adderley, 
of Reading. William Cawthorne’s sister, Susanna, married 
the Rev. Matthias Powley, of Dewsbury, and died in 1835, 
aged 89, outliving her brother by thirty-nine years. 

The differences that existed between Thomas the Bad and 
his family may have arisen by his making a marriage that 
displeased his father, Thomas the Great. In the latter’s 
will, as originally drafted, Thomas the Bad only received 
^300, which, Thomas the Great says, when added to ^400 
he had already received, made £700, “which is more than 
what I promised him upon marriage”. Later Thomas the 
Great seems to have relented; he added a paragraph to his 
will and gave his eldest son a life-interest in Eckfields, which 
was to descend to Thomas the Grocer. But when we study 
Thomas the Bad’s will we find that he did not carry out his 
father’s directions. Eckfields did not pass to Thomas the 
Grocer but to Thomas the Bad’s third son, John. 

One item in Thomas the Bad’s will can only be inter¬ 
preted as a piece of impertinence. He may have been hurt 
because Matthias the Magnificent had inherited such a 
large part of the family property, but that cannot be held 
to excuse his fault: he made Matthias his executor, and left 
him £10, “to buy him mourning”. Matthias, a leading 
citizen, was probably meant to be insulted not only by the 
meanness of the gift but also by the suggestion that he would 



not wear mourning for his eldest brother unless it was 
bought for him. And Matthias did not forget. Twelve years 
later, when he made his own will, he left £100 each to 
Thomas the Bad’s younger sons, Roger, John, Stephen, 
and George, but to the eldest son, Thomas the Grocer, £50 
only; and the money was only to be paid, Matthias said, 
“upon his signing and sealing a release valid in the law of 
all claim and title in unto or out of all and every real and 
personal estate whereof I die possessed”. So emphatic a 
declaration is almost amusing. Plainly there was to be no 

doubt about the matter. 1369430 

Thomas the Bad was not the only member of Thomas 
the Great’s family to earn his father’s distrust. When 
Thomas the Great died his youngest son, Joseph, was still 
a bachelor, and was charged with the care of his widowed 
mother. Apparently Thomas the Great thought that Joseph 
might fail in his trust, so it was arranged that Joseph was 
to be partly disinherited if he did not do as his father wished. 
Moreover, if his mother chose to occupy a separate house, 
he was to make her a small allowance. 

Joseph was 25 years old when, three years after his 
father’s death, he married Hannah Gent. They had a 
large family. Some of the children died in infancy; all the 
others can be traced. When the eldest son, Joseph, was 
22 years of age, he became Lord of the Manor of 
Camoys. He lived at Trinity Hall, Castle Hedingham, and 
married Sarah, the daughter of Sarah Fenn, a widow of 
Sudbury, Suffolk. Joseph and Sarah had one son, Joseph, 
from whom my father has always been supposed to be 
descended. The pedigree has been constructed by several 
different persons, all of whom have agreed in attributing my 
father’s great-grandfather, Joseph Unwin, of Stambourne, 



to Joseph, the son of Joseph and Sarah. It is dangerous to 
question a conclusion so commonly accepted; but I discover 
that Joseph, the son of Joseph and Sarah, died when he was 
2 years old; and that, as I have often remarked, is early 
even for an Unwin to have sons. I fear that the error must 
be admitted. Until it is rectified the father of Joseph of 
Stambourne remains unknown to me. Doubtless the truth 
will soon emerge from further inquiries. Possibly Joseph of 
Stambourne was the son of one of his reputed father’s cousins. 

The fate of the Manor of Camoys is a subject of great 
interest. In his will Joseph, who died in 1778, definitely 
said that neither his wife Sarah nor her daughter was to 
have it. Indeed he left comparatively large sums of money 
to them “on condition that neither the said mother nor 
the said daughter occasion any expense to my executors or 
administrators on pretence of claiming my said Manor of 
Camoys”. If they were so bold any expense incurred by the 
executors was to be deducted from their legacies. Joseph also 
said: “My Manor of Camoys, and all the rest and residue 
of my estate . . ., I give to my executors to be sold by them 
for the best price that can reasonably be obtained.” Yet I 
have seen a deed, now in the possession of W. Hardy, Esq., 
baker, of Toppesfield, which proves conclusively that in 
1792 Sarah, the daughter, was the owner of the Manor. Of 
course she may have bought it from the executors; but it 
seems queer. It seems queerer that in his will Joseph should 
refer to this woman not as “my daughter, Sarah”, as we 
should expect, but as “her daughter, Sarah”, the “her” 
referring to his wife, Sarah. If we may judge from this 
evidence alone we must conclude that Sarah was not Joseph’s 
daughter at all, and that when he married his wife, Sarah, 
she already had a daughter, Sarah. 



The daughter married Stockdale Clarke, a lawyer; and 
I feel that his legal training may have been useful in the 
matter of Camoys Manor. He was Town Clerk of Sudbury. 
The son of this marriage was the Rev. Unwin Clarke, who 
became Archdeacon of Chester, and founded the distin¬ 
guished family of Unwin Clarkes. The Archdeacon was 
Lord of the Manor of Camoys; so was his son also, John 
James Unwin Clarke, of Hornton Street, Kensington. After 
that I lose trace of the Manor. I think it must have been 
sold. The head of the Unwin Clarke family now lives, I 
believe, at South Burcombe, Wilts. 

Joseph, second Lord of the Manor of Camoys (Matthias 
the Magnificent having been the first Lord) seems to have 
had some sympathy with the dissenters, for he left £5 each 
to several dissenting Ministers, including those of Stam- 
bourne and Haverhill. In the eighteenth century the rise 
of Nonconformity often affected the family unity, and I 
myself believe that the ease with which some sections of the 
family slid into puritanism was in some measure a reaction 
against the habits of those who inherited and consumed the 
money made by the clothiers. I am never surprised if after 
a husband’s death a widow tends to seek the society of other 
men than her husband’s relations. I have already mentioned 
Mary, the friend of Cowper. There was another Mary, too, 
who on being left a widow found that she had affection to 
spare. She subscribed handsomely to the funds of the Congre¬ 
gational Church, Hedingham, and “with two opulent 
members of the congregation” assisted the incumbent, 
Stevenson, to purchase a residence of his own. On her death 
she left him £60 a year, absolutely, and seems to have been 
very fond of him indeed. 

An Anglican-Nonconformist split also occurred among 



the sons of Joseph of Stambourne. Joseph had three sons: 
(i) Joseph, (2) Henry, (3) Daniel. (1) Joseph left Stam¬ 
bourne, became a Nonconformist, and married Eliza Jarvis. 
His eldest son, Joseph, was the father of Stephen, who went 
to London and became a wine-and-spirit merchant in 
Camden Town. His third son, George Jarvis, married 
Mary Ann Brook, of Haverhill Hall, Suffolk. Their eldest 
son was Frederick Daniel, my father. (2) Henry married 
a woman of whom his relations disapproved; they would 
have nothing more to do with him; so he migrated 
to Malden, Essex. His only child, Joseph Henry, died in 
1919, and left no issue. (3) Daniel remained in Stambourne, 
and was loyal to the Established Church. He had two sons, 
George and Daniel. Their descendants still live in Bay- 
thorne End and Stambourne, respectively. 

I now return to the seventeenth century, and to Thomas 
the Vicar, cousin of Thomas the Great. 

Thomas the Vicar (1643—1703) was at Jesus College, 
Cambridge. He matriculated in 1659, graduated in 1663, 
was ordained in the same year, became a priest in 1664, took 
his master’s degree in 1666, and, two years later, was 
instituted as Vicar of Belchamp St Paul, Essex. At Cam¬ 
bridge he was the contemporary of John, a Derbyshire 
Unwin, whose father lived at Graystones, Sheffield. Just 
after he went down another John Unwin arrived in 
Cambridge. This John was a Staffordshire Unwin from 
Hulleston, Cheshire, and had a sizarship at Pembroke 

Thomas the Vicar’s will is extant, but I am sorry to say 
that I have not read it. Thomas the Great and others speak 
highly of him, and it is plain that he was greatly respected 
by his contemporaries. His eldest son was (another) Thomas, 


but I know nothing of him. Historically Thomas the Vicar 
is important because his second son, John, migrated to 
Coggeshall, and married Elizabeth Fisher. From this union 
sprang a numerous progeny; and the descendants of Cogge¬ 
shall John maybe said to form a sub-section of the Hedingham 
Unwins, the Coggeshall Unwins. Professor William Caw- 
thorne Unwin is a Coggeshall Unwin. The Unwins that 
print, and the Unwins that publish, books are Coggeshall 

Concerning the personal histories of the Coggeshall 
Unwins many men know more than I, so I shall do no more 
than state the main genealogical facts. 

Coggeshall John was a typical Unwin; he liked the old 
family names, and had many sons. His eldest son was named 
Thomas. I shall not speak of his other sons, George, William, 
Joseph, Edward, and John; and, in order to distinguish his 
eldest son from a hundred other Thomases, I allude to 
Thomas, son of Coggeshall John, as Grange Thomas, for 
he lived at a house called The Grange. He had five sons, 
the eldest of whom was another Thomas. This Thomas 
seems to have incurred the wisdom as well as the infirmities 
of old age, for when he died, aged ninety years, he was 
unmarried. The third and fourth sons of Grange Thomas, 
Jacob and Fisher, had the good sense to be brewers. I do 
not know the names of their descendants. The second and 
fifth sons of Grange Thomas were Jordan and Stephen. 
Genealogically they are an important pair. 

Jordan lived at the Grange, married Lydia Salmon, and 
gave evidence of his conservatism by calling his eldest son 
Thomas. I believe that some of this Thomas’s descendants 
are in Australia. Of Jordan’s second son Jordan, I know 
nothing; but his third son, Stephen, who married Sarah 



Branston, proved his quality by begetting, among six children, 
first, Stephen, the grandfather of Philip Ibbotson Unwin, 
who signed the Foreword to these Notes, and, secondly, 
William Jordan, the father of Professor William Cawthorne 

Stephen, the youngest son of Grange Thomas, was a 
clothier. He defied Unwinian tradition by having only two 
sons, one of whom died in infancy. The other, Fisher, 
upheld the family tradition, and had nine children. His 
second son was Jacob (1802—1855), who became a printer, 
and founded a printing business which was carried on, 
extended, and made famous by two of his sons, George and 
Edward. And it was Jacob’s niece, Emily, who by marrying 
J. S. Moffat introduced Unwins to missionary enterprise. 
She also upheld the tradition of her sires, and had eleven 
children. Her first two sons were named Unwin and 

Jacob married twice. Thomas Fisher Unwin, the pub¬ 
lisher, is the second son of the second marriage. 

The brothers George and Edward married two sisters, 
the Misses Spicer. Stanley, the publisher, who caused these 
Notes to be printed, is Edward’s youngest son. Rex Jennings, 
who also signed the Foreword to these Notes, is the son of 
Edyth, George’s fourth daughter and sixth child. 




These notes, I fear, are meagre, but the imperfections of 
my own knowledge are so apparent that they need neither 
mention nor apology. Indeed, the more I know of the family 
history, the less I feel I know; and the more I wish to 
know. It is in such a mood that I have the temerity to add 
a few suggestions in regard to further research. 

Information in regard to the men that lived before the 
sixteenth century is at present scanty. The first task in its 
collection is to study the Hundred Rolls, then to ransack 
the British Museum. Something ought to emerge after that. 
Concerning the sixteenth-century men and their descendants 
there is abundant evidence, which subdivides into (a) aca¬ 
demic, (b) active. In this connexion it is convenient to 
preserve the division into counties, Staffordshire, Hampshire, 
Wiltshire, and Essex. We shall find, I think, that all these 
groups possessed common ancestors; but for the purpose of 
classifying the material it is better to distinguish them. 

All the academic information can be obtained in libraries. 
Indeed it is almost impossible to browse, even for a few 
moments, in the appropriate section of any large library 
without coming across some reference to the Unwins. The 
first attack might well be launched against the publica¬ 
tions of the Harleian Society, against such journals as The 
Genealogist and The Gentleman!s Magazine, and against 
the books catalogued under county headings. County 
histories are valuable, especially in regard to the purchase 
and sale of estates; the chief difficulty in studying them 



arises out of their uneven value. For instance, in reference 
to the Essex Unwins, I have found that T. Wright, History 
and Topography of Essex (2 vols., London, 1831), is not 
trustworthy when he speaks of our family. He makes 
mistakes in op. cit., i, 534 (in reference to Goodinges), 
624 (in reference to Ellen Radcliffe), and 646 (in refer¬ 
ence to Camoys Manor). On the other hand, Morant is a 
reliable author. A useful compilation has also been made by 
P. Muilman, A New and Complete History of Essex from a 
Late Survey (6 vols., London, 1770-72). I was disappointed 
to find nothing about the Hedingham men in Norden, 
Speculi Britanniae Pars (1594); but there may be something 
there in regard to the other branches of the family. The 
Transactions of the Essex Archaeological Society are of little 
use; but we learn something from them, e.g., that in the 
sixteenth century John Unwin issued his own money (op. 
cit., V (1873), p. 172). 

On the whole the academic information concerning the 
Essex Unwins is fairly well known, but the corresponding 
literature on the other counties remains to be studied. All 
results, even negative ones, should be recorded. 

If I remember rightly the late George Unwin collected 
some valuable material on the Hampshire, Staffordshire, and 
Wiltshire Unwins. He extracted it from the Chancery 
Records. He also consulted The Gentleman's Magazine, 
but I could not always check his references, and he made 
some mistakes when he quoted from the issues dated 
19 September 1747 and 17 March 1759. I mention the 
matter in a desire for accuracy. Should any errors be found 
in my own Notes I should be glad to have them pointed out. 

The active material is more exciting. It consists of 
reading the old wills and in making extracts from the Parish 



Registers. I do not think that we shall make much progress 
till all the extant wills have been read. Their interest is 
enthralling. At first the reading is tiring, and takes time, 
but one soon gets into the way of it. After learning how to 
find a will anyone who spends half an hour reading it earns 
a great reward. I have a list of eighty-three wills, dating 
from the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, which I have 
marked as essential. Doubtless more remain to be discovered. 
I think an official copy of any will can be secured; but for 
that service a largish fee has to be paid. 

The Parish Registers that have been studied are not more 
important than those from which no extract has yet been 
made. Anyone who has a car, and a few spare days, can 
make valuable additions to our knowledge. Chatterleigh in 
Staffordshire, Horton in Hampshire, Bishop’s Cannings in 
Wiltshire, and Eyam in Derbyshire should be visited, and 
the information interpreted in the light of the facts con¬ 
tained in the publications of the Harleian Society. Perhaps 
some living descendants of the Staffordshire, Hampshire, and 
Wiltshire families have already collected some information 
in regard to their immediate ascendants. If so, it would be 
possible to work both backwards and forwards in time. 

Most of the Parish Registers of the City of London have 
been printed. Our name must often occur in them. 

In regard to the Essex family I myself possess extracts 
from the Parish Registers of Castle Hedingham, Birdbrook, 
Helions Bumpstead, the Sampfords, Thaxted, Hadstock, 
Hempstead, the Bardfields, Wethersfield, Toppesfield, 
Finchingfield, and Radwinter; but this is by no means an 
adequate list. A visit to the following places is the next task: 
Sible Hedingham, the Yeldhams, Braintree, the Tolleshunts, 
Colchester (where only the parishes of All Saints and St 



Nicholas have been visited), Witham, Brightlingsea, Chelms¬ 
ford, the Colnes, Stambourne, Hockley, Rickling, the 
Cornards, Sudbury (especially the dissenting Chapels), and 

I should like to discover the birthplace of Joseph, who, 
as I have said (p. 36), is temporarily without a father. He 
is said to have been born in 1750, but the date is not sup¬ 
ported by irrefragable evidence. There is another Joseph, 
too, whose identity remains a mystery; he may have been 
an important man. He has been confused with Joseph, who 
married Sarah Fenn, and is reputed to have owned an inn 
called “The Swan” in a place named Stratford Langthorne; 
also to have come into the possession of Berwick Hall, 
Toppesfield, on the death of Joseph, younger brother of 
Matthias the Magnificent. I do not trust these data, but 
the search for these two Josephs would be an exciting 

Perhaps I may add that a need for compression prevented 
me from speaking of the Unwins that owned inns. At one 
time many Sudbury and Hedingham thirsts were quenched 
in houses owned by our ancestors. 

When extracts are made from the Parish Registers it is 
desirable that the person who makes the extract should sign 
the paper and add the date. The date is important. Registers 
are sometimes lost. 

In the construction of pedigrees, I think, scepticism 
should be permitted to temper an eagerness to produce 
results. Every entry should be either supported by a statement 
of the evidence on which it is based or labelled as conjectural. 
Care should be taken, too, not to identify men of the same 
name unless collateral evidence supporting the identification 
is available. So far as possible any genealogical entry, before 



being accepted, should be supported by the evidence con¬ 
tained in the wills. 

I make these suggestions in all humility, and hope that 
the few things I have been able to write may encourage 
others to devote some of their spare time to the work. 
Finally I wish to acknowledge with thanks the help I have 
received from my sister (J. M. U.), who has visited several 
parishes for me. I have also learnt much from the notes 
made by the late George Unwin. 

J. D. U.